There were two pieces of news last month that I found confusing.
Firstly was a ‘victory’ by some Christians. They were given a payout of £10,000 from the police for the way they were dealt with when the local council tried to stop them putting their ‘anti-gay’ literature next to some ‘pro-gay’ literature and accused them of being homophobic. Now, this apparently boiled down to being a victory for free speech and the freedom to express oneself as one sees fit.
Next was the news of the return to the UK of David Irving, a ‘Holocaust denier’. He’s just spend a period in jail for daring to speak freely and express himself and his views about the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. Ok, ok, yes, it’s a bit more complex than that.
However, what it’s not is the freedom to speak freely and express himself. I don’t really get the difference here: It seems that depending on the subject and the ‘target’ of your dispute, you are either allowed to hold a view or you are not.
One could argue that it appears that followers of religions born of the Middle East are given privileges over those who free-think or research ‘truth’.
The Christian couple wanted to spread the view that homosexuality is morally wrong. Their view is an opinion propagated by the organisers of their religion. Despite it having a victim – ie, anybody who finds themselves to be homosexual is ‘committing a moral sin’ – it appears to be ok for their brand of Christianity to push that point of view.
Now, I have my own views about homosexuality and why it exists, but where a person is homosexual I strongly agree that they should be allowed to be homosexual without anybody telling them they are sinful or acting in an intimidating fashion.
Yet, this Christian couple are allowed to propagate their anti-gay belief, and are paid £10,000 out of public funds as an apology for being initially challenged about it.
On the other hand, David Irving has produced some fairly damning original documentation that there is now what he calls a ‘Holocaust Industry’ with a purpose of deliberately over-exaggerating the actual truth about the World War Two death camps, and yet because he challenges one of the basic tenants of another religious group – the Jews – he spends a year in jail.
Of course, even one victim of genocide is one victim too many, but what are the actual facts? Again it’s one of those subjects over which loonies from either side can pull or push me to side with their beliefs. I mean, even the ‘we never landed on the moon’ brigade have compelling arguments until you actually properly deconstruct them. So, how am I supposed to learn what really happened during the War?
But I do want to hear what people have to say. Having them muted or jailed for not toeing a particular line is very scary. Religion is very good at that – almost as good at that as it is with changing and re-writing history in the first place. Maybe it’s that simple fact that makes me stop and consider what Irving is trying to tell the world, but reading through his website I’m not really any the wiser. His evidence appears quite watertight on first look, but then so does the ‘we didn’t land on the moon’ stuff.
Ok, I’ve no idea if what he’s saying is right or wrong. But, what I do know is wrong is the need for a religious group to persecute him for saying it. Just as it is also wrong for a religious group to persecute people because of the sexual orientation they’ve been dealt in life.
Yet, these two Middle Eastern religious groups seem to have rights above normal free-thinking morality. That just can’t be right, can it?